I recently read something that Rachel Held Evans wrote:

"The cult of celebrity has infected the Christian culture in the U.S. in some disturbing ways. And I urge conference leaders to trust that God can do more through the simple breaking of bread and drinking of wine than in all the light shows and stage productions and dynamic speakers in the world…let’s start constructing more tables and fewer stages."

For many years we have asked you why you come to the conference. Is it the location?  The speakers? The Bible teacher? The music and worship? Consistently you have told us these things are a part of your decision, but the real reason most people come back year after year is a combination of relationships and learning. No one comes for either one exclusively. Most people come for both.

I can tell you it is tempting every year to “up the ante” and recruit a big name or create a buzz around a particular topic or speaker. It is true that for many conferences it is the celebrities or the light shows that generate the interest. For some reason, you have never asked for that. You keep insisting on relationships and quality and that comes up time and again in our conversations with you throughout the year. I can tell you that keeps us focused when the time comes to design the conference every year.

I don’t read the King James Version even though that’s what I memorized as a child. However, I do recall the verse in Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”

I’ve used it time and again in planning the conference as we want to do exactly that. We want to provoke each other unto love and good works. We want to stir up the gifts we’ve been given.

I hope you are ready to be provoked and stretched again this year. I am.